Sparked by Junior Star Hartman’s Production, Leadership, PDS Girls’ Hoops Sticking Together in Frustrating Season
STICKING TOGETHER: Princeton Day School girls’ basketball player Mia Hartman, right, listens in as PDS head coach Seraphine Hamilton instructs the squad during a timeout in recent action. Last Saturday, junior star Hartman scored 10 points as the Panthers fell 48-32 to Princeton High in the quarterfinals of the Mercer County Invitational. PDS, now 3-18, is next in action when it competes in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Non-Public A South Jersey sectional tournament, where it is seeded 14th and will play at third-seeded Trinity Hall in a first round contest on February 22. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
Determined to get the most out of her junior season for the Princeton Day School girls’ basketball team, Mia Hartman has spent a lot of time honing her game.
“I play nine out of the 12 months, I am definitely playing a lot,” said Hartman, who competes for the AUF Lady Hawks on the AAU circuit. “I am definitely working on my craft and having a lot of confidence in myself. Last year, it was hard figuring out my role but this year I definitely figured it out.”
That work has paid off as Hartman has solidified her role as the squad’s top scorer, tallying more than twice as many points as anyone else on PDS.
“I feel my team gives me the momentum to score, they pass it to me,” said Hartman. “I am close to reaching 500 points. It is definitely a huge part of my role and I feel like it gets us going. My progress has been really good this year. Playing AAU over the summer and my training and a lot of gym work that I put in this summer has definitely helped me around the basket.”
Last Wednesday, Hartman displayed her skills around the hoop, scoring eight points in the first half as the Panthers trailed WW/P-South 19-12 at halftime.
“When we start to score, the bench starts to get into it and we start to get into it,” said Hartman, reflecting on a second quarter which saw PDS outscore the Pirates 8-6. “It definitely helps the momentum. If we started that from the beginning, I think it would have been a different game.”
The Panthers rallied to draw within 28-21 early in the fourth quarter but could get no closer as they fell 34-23.
“I was encouraging the team, it was, ‘Look we are down by seven, that is four baskets,’” said Hartman, who ended up with 14 points in the game. “We struggle with fouls a lot. It was definitely doable but we just get stuck.”
Serving as a team captain, Hartman has focused taking an upbeat approach.
“It is my second year as captain and last year gave me a blue print,” said Hartman, who scored 10 points as the Panthers fell 48-32 to Princeton High in the quarterfinals of the Mercer County Invitational last Saturday to move to 3-18.
“Now I know my roles and coach [Seraphine] Hamilton has helped me lay out my roles. My other captain Paige [Gardner] and Paris [Smith] who is not a captain but a big senior for us have also been helping me with my leadership. It is so hard because we work so hard, every practice we put in so much energy. It is not like we don’t want to win, it is keeping our heads up.”
PDS head coach Hamilton liked the energy her squad displayed in the second quarter against WW/P-S.
“We were working on reversing the ball offensively and getting looks inside the paint,” said Hamilton. “I think the difference was that we weren’t settling for the outside threes. We were getting looks inside and we were more patient offensively in the second quarter.”
Hamilton acknowledged that the Panthers lost their patience at times down the stretch as WW/P-S pulled away to the win.
“They hit a couple of big shots, they hit the three-pointer from the corner and they made some good plays down the stretch,” said Hamilton. “We started to want to get it back really quickly — we stopped being patient and we started rushing the shots a little bit. When we settled ourselves in we were able to move it from one side of the floor to the other.”
Despite the defeat, Hamilton viewed her team’s performance as a step forward since it had lost 46-24 to WW/P-S on January 28.
“We were trying to find different ways to disrupt them defensively and I think we did that,” said Hamilton. “We cut down pretty significantly the number of points they scored 10 days ago compared to today. Our offense is really predicated on being a team offense and not where we focus on one player. We want to think about how to be more strategic about using each other’s strengths so we could be more successful as a group.”
PDS has been getting a strong season from Hartman on many levels.
“She has given us a lot across the board,” said Hamilton of Hartman. “The stat sheet says a lot but I think what she gives us is even more than that. She keeps the team motivated. Her leadership even tops her numbers on the stat sheet. We are lucky about that.”
While the Panthers haven’t the best luck in a frustrating campaign, Hamilton credits her players with sticking together.
“We have a couple of team values and one of them is family,” said Hamilton, whose team is next in action when it competes in the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Non-Public A South Jersey sectional tournament, where it is seeded 14th and will play at third-seeded Trinity Hall in a first round contest on February 22.
“I have coached a long time and this is the group that has bought into that the most. We really have each other’s backs and we are supportive of one another. I think that has kept us going.”
Hartman, for her part, is confident that PDS will keep plugging.
“I feel like working hard is the only way we can strive to be great,” said Hartman. “Our record doesn’t show that, but we have been having a lot of progress over the season. Every day is a step forward.”